HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 28, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Available for the upcoming 2019 Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), Lasso Healthcare proudly offers its highly-flexible Medicare Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) to more than 20 million Medicare beneficiaries in 17 states. Medicare’s AEP begins on October 1 and ends December 7, 2018. Enrollment will begin on October 15, 2018.
While the Medicare MSA concept received positive press from financial news outlets such as CNBC, Forbes, and The Motley Fool, the product’s availability has historically been limited. Currently, this type of product is available in only 111 counties in just two states. During the upcoming AEP, Lasso Healthcare’s MSA will expand availability ten-fold by adding coverage options in all 1,151 counties of the initial 17-state filing (see state list below).
“We believe the MSA is the most innovative product choice in Medicare Advantage,” Lasso Healthcare president Jim Handlan said. “Providing such flexibility to millions of beneficiaries will change the Medicare landscape for the better.”
The MSA plan is a “non-network,” $0-premium Medicare Advantage plan with two key parts. The first is a high-deductible health plan offered by Lasso Healthcare for Medicare-eligible individuals. The second is a medical savings account administered by Optum Bank that receives an annual tax-free deposit funded by Medicare. The member can use money from this savings account to pay health care costs before the deductible is met. Perhaps most appealing to health-conscious consumers, all unused money rolls over from year to year and members permanently maintain ownership of the account.
Many Americans are familiar with medical spending accounts attached to health plans in the form of pre-tax health savings accounts (HSAs). According to a survey conducted by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), more than 21 million Americans participated in an HSA in 2017. Since IRS rules prohibit Medicare beneficiaries from contributing to their HSA accounts, the Medicare MSA is a natural transition for individuals seeking that same financial flexibility.
“MSAs give plan members more control in how they pay for their health care,” Handlan said. “Engaged and informed MSA plan members will focus on preventive versus corrective services and have MSA funds left over to support future health care costs.”
MSAs use a different coverage strategy than typical “network-based” HMO or PPO health plans. Unlike an HMO, there is no network and no referrals are required. Unlike a PPO, out-of-pocket costs aren’t higher to access non-participating providers.
With an MSA, members can see any Medicare-participating provider in the U.S. who accepts new patients without a referral. They can use the money deposited into their account to pay health care costs (tax-free for qualified expenses), including costs that aren’t covered by Medicare. Expenses for Medicare-covered Part A and Part B services count toward the plan’s deductible. Additionally, since the MSA does not cover Part D prescription drugs, members are free to choose any stand-alone Part D plan available in their area. Visit Medicare.gov for more details.
If a member uses all the money in their account and has additional health care costs, they’ll have to pay for those Medicare-covered services out of pocket until reaching the plan’s deductible, so it’s critical to plan for the risk between the deposit and the deductible. Importantly, when receiving services, members have protection in that Medicare-approved providers can’t charge more than the Medicare-approved amount.
“There are many features that make this MSA appealing, from the annual tax-free deposit and rollover of unused funds to the $0-premium health plan with 100% coverage above the deductible,” Handlan said. “Members also receive access to all Medicare-participating providers with no referrals required.”
Insurance agents interested in marketing the Lasso Healthcare MSA must be licensed in a state where the product is available and be appointed and certified. Agents can learn more at www.lassohealthcare.com/agents.
Lasso Healthcare Insurance Company is a health insurer based in Dallas, Texas. The MSA is filed with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for CY2019 enrollments in the following states: AZ, AR, DE, HI, IL, IN, KS, MD, MS, MT, NC, ND, PA, SD, TX, UT, WY.